Ryerson Mass Exodus

The future of Toronto fashion at Ryerson's Mass Exodus

Hand cut leather flowers hugged the train of a floor length dress. I asked Danielle Meder, an alumnus of Ryerson's fashion program about the construction - she nostalgically commented, "if I know my fashion students, each one was hand-crafted." Such a fitting remark from someone who knows all too well, the pain and suffering a bright-eyed baccalaureate can endure.

With tears, bloodshed and coffee runs out of the way, it is time for student fashion.

Mass Exodus is a Ryerson School of Fashion student showcase that can make or break a career - heralded as the Central Saint Martins of Toronto, students spend four draining years creating final collections that boast an individual point of view.

Media types crowded the Ryerson Theatre to catch a glimpse of the next enfant terrible of the fashion world, but what they saw was a lackluster ensemble cast of weak model walks and shows that lacked the drama I expected after seeing the beautiful and stimulating set design.

Dressing Mass Exodus' longest runway in 60 years was a three dimensional stark white tree outfitted with luminous hand-crafted paper balloons and oversized Carroll-inspired flowers that opened as the show progressed.

The production value was high. The set was complete with dramatic, well-crafted and beautiful props to echo the natural aesthetic of this year's In Bloom theme. As for the logistics? The show itself ran more smoothly than any production at LG Fashion Week and after spotting Robin Kay in the audience, I can only hope she took note.

Mass Exodus Fashion Show

Like any student production, hemlines could have been finished, seams could have been tighter and corset work, more refined. Experience will bring these students to another level - dare I say, making them the future "image makers" Mass Exodus would have us believe they already are.

The standouts?

Amanda Lew Kee showed a minimalist collection - layered chiffon, stretch nylon and paper weight nappa leather left me breathless. A juxtaposition of hard and soft added a luxury appeal to garments and spike detailing provided an on trend option for an 80s revival that never seems to go away.

Of all the collections, Jade Sullivan-Vallentyne had a sense of humour. Freitag-influenced vests show a sustainable bent, proving that anything, even an old tent can be made into something wearable. A royal blue and bright orange pair of long johns with back flap looked comfortable and injected a bit of life into an otherwise sombre mood. She may not possess the heritage refinement of Philip Sparks, but Jade is providing menswear with her own spin on the casual and carefree marketplace.

Genevieve Pearson created forward, yet wearable leather jackets. Her aim? To make women feel as sexy in outerwear as they do without it. Genevieve explored fit and showed us her ability to craft leather into body flattering silhouettes - new treatments and silver finishing details gave a staple leather jacket a modern feel. Pearson is a talent and Danier would be wise to knock on her door come graduation.

Other designers covered niche after niche - yoga and ski wear, plus size, bridal, and costume all had their place on the runway. It was refreshing to see that students had expressed their point of view in a number of ways - Canada needs more menswear, plus size clothing and women are always looking for more bridal options outside of the covetable Vera Wang.

I want to congratulate the 25 students who made it through Sarah Casselman's unenviable task of curating Mass Exodus - this was your moment to shine and I was left with the feeling that I saw raw talent that is waiting to be awakened on the real world stage.

Photos courtesy Arthur Mola. Video by Amanda Lew Kee.

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